Poor dietary quality is associated with oral health problems such as periodontitis—an affliction of the tissue surrounding and supporting our teeth, and a major cause of tooth loss—and the relationship may be bidirectional. For example, as a pro-inflammatory food component, saturated fat could be contributing directly to tooth loss, or tooth loss could be contributing to eating more fatty foods like processed meat because it’s easier to chew. In the same vein, the foods associated with fewer missing teeth—fruits and vegetables—are both anti-inflammatory and may require more chewing.

A meta-analysis on the dental health implications of vegetarian diets showed that vegetarians have significantly fewer decayed, missing, and filled teeth. This isn’t surprising given that vegetarians eat more antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods. Those eating plant-based also have significantly lower rates of oral cancer in every study to date on the topic. Vegetarians do appear to have an Achilles’ tooth, though: an increased risk of dental enamel erosion, thought due to their consumption of more acidic fruits and vegetables, such as citrus and tomatoes. The solution is to rinse out your mouth with water after consuming sour foods or beverages and waiting to brush your teeth for at least 30, and preferably 60, minutes after consumption to allow your teeth to first remineralize, so as not to brush them in a softened state.

For regular dental hygiene, evidence is limited that adding flossing to a brushing regimen reduces gum inflammation, but it is still recommended on a daily basis. Researchers have compared unwaxed to woven to shred-resistant floss, and they all appear to have about the same plaque-removal efficacy. Should you floss before or after you brush? A randomized controlled trial on flossing sequence was performed to put to rest dueling intuitions. Flossing first won hands down for better dental health.

For substantiation of any statements of fact from the peer-reviewed medical literature, please see the associated videos below.

Image Credit: Pixabay. This image has been modified.

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